View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Planned Parenthood considers prayer "violence"??

I went to the website of the local Planned Parenthood - the billion-dollar abortion business - and found a link to "Hotspots" which is described as "a summary of incidents of harassment and violence directed at Planned Parenthood affiliates ...."

Now some of the incidents cited are indeed not acceptable. I oppose threats, yelling, vandalizing people's property, and so on.

But then there was this one from October 22 of 2009: "Anti-choice protesters held a prayer vigil at a Planned Parentnhood health center."

A prayer vigil is harassment and violence???

And what they do in the clinics is not?

There's more.

On October 2 of last year "The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg led a prayer group in front of a Planned Parenthood health center." (Good for him!)

On November 18, "A Planned Parenthood health center observed three protesters with red tape over their mouths with the word “LIFE” written on it. They remained on the sidewalk and no confrontations occurred." (This is violent??)

On December 9: "A Planned Parenthood health center received an anti-choice postcard that contained a variety of religious comments." (Religious comments as violence?)

On December 28 - Feast of the Holy Innocents - "A large group of protesters arrived outside a Planned Parenthood health center in a bus and several cars. The group got out and prayed on the sidewalk and took some pictures. They left after approximately 15 minutes with no further incident."

Anyway, these and similar incidents listed at the site give an insight into how far out of touch with reality their extremist views can place some of the folks at Planned Parenthood.

They need more people praying for them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Junia" - a brief review

As I warned, more to come.

In my quest to read more contemporary Catholic fiction, I just finished Junia by Father Michael Giesler. It's the story of the daughter of a Roman Senator who learns about Christianity, becomes a Christian, and ultimately pays the price for that.

An enjoyable read, though not without its flaws. There are some threads left dangling, though there is at least one sequel involving Junia's brother, so maybe in the later book some of those threads are dealt with.

For example, we are introduced to a Praetorian guard who wants to marry Junia. We begin to get insights into him - and then he suddenly is gone. Is he in the second book? Or a perhaps a third book? I don't know. I found it unsatisfying not to get some hints.

Also, I found myself a bit skeptical about some of the things that happen to Junia's father and his ambitions, especially given that he has a Christian daughter who is exposed the way she is.

All that aside, as I said it is an enjoyable read, though maybe more appropriate for a middle school girl than a middle-aged English teacher!

Check it out if you are looking for a light, quick read.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The slug chronicles (5)

a slug among weeds
is related to the snail
but not by marriage

Friday, April 23, 2010

Secular Franciscan Candidate

Tonight we held a ceremony at our Secular Franciscan Order meeting, and I officially became a candidate (i.e. novice).


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Thursday, April 22, 2010

St. Joseph Rosary

Today I heard about a different way to say the Rosary - a St. Joseph Rosary!

It is prayed exactly like the Marian rosary, except instead of saying the "Hail Mary" on the 10 beads you say:

Joseph, son of David, and husband of Mary; we honor you, guardian of the Redeemer, and we adore the child you named Jesus.

Saint Joseph, patron of the universal church, pray for us that, like you, we may live totally dedicated to the interests of the Savior.


There are also additional Mysteries on which to reflect:

1. Betrothal to Mary (Mt 1:18).
2. Annunciation to Joseph (Mt 1:19-21).
3. Birth and Naming of Jesus (Mt 1:22-25).
4. Flight into Egypt (Mt 2:13-15).
5. Hidden Life at Nazareth (Mt 2:23; Lk 2:51-52).

Yeah, I know, probably most everyone else has heard of this, but it's new to me and I think it's great.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cat Yodeling?!

(A nod to Father Erik)

Who are the Secular Franciscans?

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Iceland's volcano

Iceland's volcano
has conquered Europe's air space -
who needs an air force?


Monday, April 19, 2010

Volcano Makes an Ash of Cleese?

According to news reports, John Cleese of Monty Python fame took a 5,100 dollar taxi ride from Oslo to Brussels after becoming stranded due to the volcanic ash travel crisis.

Hmm. He could have just tried a silly walk to get home.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mouse Moment

mouse noisily gnaws
at ant trap beneath the stove -
could be bait and switch?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

CNN Poll: Huckabee tops GOP Rivals

In a CNN Poll, Mike Huckabee is the top choice among potential Republican Presidential candidates:

Huckabee 24%
Romney 20%
Palin 15%
Gingrich 14%
Paul 8%
Santorum 3%
Pawlenty 2%
Pence 2%
Barbour 1%

The poll was based on interviews with 1,008 adult Americans, including 907 registered voters, conducted by telephone by Opinion Research Corporation on April 9-11, 2010. The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points and for registered voters is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Meanwhile, In the monthly Public Policy Polling, Huckabee edges President Obama in head-to-head match up 47-45.

Mitt Romney also beats the President, 45-44.

Newt Gingrich ties President Obama at 45-45, and Sarah Palin just barely trails him 47-45.

All four of the potential GOP candidates are basically tied with the President, but Huckabee does the best.

Also of interest: Huckabee is apparently setting up residence in Florida. That might give him a heads up in the primary in 2012 in that key state. If Marco Rubio, whom Huckabee is backing, wins the Senate race there, it will also increase Huckabee's chances in Florida - and among Hispanic voters.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

And I used to be part of the media ...

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Planned Parenthood Misinformation

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Life - more than just a choice

A nod to Tom SFO.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


At my Secular Franciscan meeting, the topic of the "incorruptibles" - the holy people who have died but whose bodies show no signs of decay even centuries later - came up.

One person said he'd heard that the incorruptibles are all people like St. Bernadette (above) or Padre Pio who died never having lost their purity. St. Francis, who led a less than pure life when he was young, is not an incorruptible.

My fellow Franciscan did not know if this story that only those who are pure can be incorruptibles is true - nor do I. But what is incontrovertible is that there are indeed incorruptibles.

Rock of Faith: Hands of Christ

To honor the Hands of Christ recipients, my parish held a special Mass. Rock of Faith led the music.

What was neat was that one of the honorees was Brian, who used to play guitar with us. It was nice to see him again, and to know that he is continuing to serve the Church.

We led the congregation in "Healing Waters," "This is the Day," "God of Wonders," "Come to the Lord," and "Did you Feel the Mountains Tremble" (a version of which is down below).

I thought we sounded really tight - which was nice. And I didn't hit too many wrong chords or sing too many bad notes. Maybe some day they will find a more competent guitarist/singer and the group will really take off!

Rock of Faith has no scheduled Masses at this point. We may play for some Masses over the summer - that's to be determined.

I'd like to see us play for some other events as well. Maybe there will be a youth rally? And it would be nice if we could get a few more young people to join us.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pope Benedict - Bishop Clark

Pope Benedict has been coming under attack in recent weeks because of the manufactured sex abuse scandal in the Church.

I say "manufactured" not because I deny that abuse did and does take place - I was once myself an unsuccessful target of it earlier in my life - but because it has been distorted and exaggerated. Statistics show that Catholic priests are less likely to be guilty of abuse than Protestant ministers, teachers, and many other groups.

In terms of the Pope, yes, he may have made some mistakes. But many of his mistakes were similar to mistakes made by many other secular and church officials years ago at a time when the nature of sexual addiction was not understood.

Lately, however, he has been unfairly targeted by some outrageous attacks. Back when I was an editor, if any of my writers had written stories of the inaccurate, poorly-researched sort that have been foisted on the public (and then endlessly recycled) in recent weeks, they would have been called on the carpet.

I pray for him, the Church, and the deluded public - and for the misguided individuals who circulate these reports.

This is just another instance of the Pope (and the Church) being targeted. No matter what he does or says, it always seems that someone will use distortion, falsehoods (admittedly, sometimes out of ignorance), and innuendo to criticize. They will interpret what's on his mind, even when he has not made it clear what is on his mind, and always assume the worst. It's as if some people are watching him constantly just to find something they can attack him about.

It occurred to me that our own Bishop Clark and some diocesan and parish officials have likewise been the targets of questionable, sometimes uncharitable attacks. Yes, there have been serious mistakes made in this diocese - I have raised questions myself. But I have seen some legitimate criticisms become agenda-driven, either by the person initially voicing the criticisms or by those jumping on the bandwagon. Motives are interpreted, assumptions are made, and, sometimes the attacks have gotten cruel and personal in nature.

It's as if there's a witch hunt going on.

It seems to me that some people out to critique Bishop Clark and the diocese are as blinded by anger and hurt and private agendas as are some of the journalists and others who are out to get the Pope and the Church.

It's so easy to go too far when we get an appreciative audience.

I think we all need to think and pray before we act and react.

When God Dips His Love ...

(A nod to Ben over at Fallacies and Fashions.)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Bill Kassel's "Holy Innocents": Good Read

My quest to read more Catholic fiction lead me to Holy Innocents, a novel by Bill Kassel.

I'm glad it did.

The story is well written. It has a good plot - and the mystery held my attention. I also found the characters not only believable, but worth caring about.

Plus, it had a pro-life theme, and the main character is a church musician. All to the better!

It's not a "classic," but well worth the read. It was good enough that I plan to read Kassel's second novel, This Side of Jordan, in the near future.

Of course, I have ulterior motives: Inspiration for my own writing. Reading more books like this will help me in my efforts.

Monday, April 05, 2010

An Old Poem for National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month, the first of my poems ever published (way back in the 1970s!):

The Widow's Walk

A sail!
The young trip as they run.
The old curse their stiffness.
And all eyes turn to the sea
as on the widow's walk they stand.

There is motion on the sea road;
hearts flutter
as moving shapes become faces.

The exodus begins.
The young run down the stairs.
The old no longer curse.
Doors open.
Arms open
and close in warm embrace.

Far above,
silent eyes watch
as the road empties.
Tears begin to fall
down the stairs
as on the widow's walk she stands.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Daffodils on Easter morning

daffodils blooming -
alleluias echoing
from the Easter Mass


Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song. - Pope John Paul II

Saturday, April 03, 2010

A Death Panel by any other name ...

Gee, maybe Sarah Palin had it right?

Good Friday Service - and a treat

The Good -Looking-One and I went down to the Abbey of the Genesee for their Good Friday service. It was wonderful.

We both love to visit there to pray, to walk on the grounds, and, of course, to buy some bread or other treats.

We got a special treat at the entrance to the Abbey's main building.

Above the door, a dove had built a nest. It sat there peacefully, even though we were only a few feet away.

Thank you, Lord.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday Pro-Life March

Every year since 2000, Rochester Catholics have staged a Good Friday Stations of the Cross in Reparation for Abortion starting from McQuaid Jesuit High School. The annual event includes a prayer service at the school, then the Stations procession to the office of a doctor who performs abortions.

This year, the weather was beautiful. That, perhaps coupled with the anti-life climate in this nation, resulted in approximately 300 people taking part in the march this year - the largest participation I can remember in all the years I've been taking part. Even the road construction that produced lots of noise did not mar this day's event.

At the service before the march, Father Mike Mayer delivered an interesting reflection: If you want abortion to end, pray for the end of the world!

His point was not a morbid one. Rather, he observed that only the world's end will "bring about the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God," and it is only in that Kingdom that the evil that is abortion will end. He pointed out that we already pray for the end of the world: Think of the "Our Father" - "Thy Kingdom come."

That had never occurred to me before. But he is right. Suffering, violence, abortion will not end until the world ends and we are united with the Lord.

As for now, he observed, our "joy" is "to share in the death and suffering of Christ."

A very Franciscan notion, that!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Sister Thea Bowman: Holy Week Meditation

Shortly before she died of bone cancer back in 1990, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Thea Bowman, who worked to advance the life of African-American Catholics, dictated the following beautiful meditation for Holy Week..

"Let us love one another during Holy Week"

Let us resolve to make this week holy by claiming Christ's redemptive grace and by living holy lives. The Word became flesh and redeemed us by his holy life and holy death. This week especially, let us accept redemption by living grateful, faithful, prayerful, generous, just and holy lives.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by reading and meditating (on) holy Scripture. So often, we get caught up in the hurry of daily living. As individuals and as families, reserve prime time to be with Jesus, to hear the cries of the children waving palm branches, to see the Son of Man riding on an ass' colt, to feel the press of the crowd, to be caught up in the "Hosannas" and to realize how the cries of acclamation will yield to the garden of suffering, to be there and watch as Jesus is sentenced by Pilate to Calvary, to see him rejected, mocked, spat upon, beaten and forced to carry a heavy cross, to hear the echo of the hammer, to feel the agony of the torn flesh and strained muscles, to know Mary's anguish as he hung three hours before he died.

We recoil before the atrocities of war, gang crime, domestic violence and catastrophic illness. Unless we personally and immediately are touched by suffering, it is easy to read Scripture and to walk away without contacting the redemptive suffering that makes us holy. The reality of the Word falls on deaf ears.

Let us take time this week to be present to someone who suffers. Sharing the pain of a fellow human will enliven Scripture and help us enter into the holy mystery of the redemptive suffering of Christ.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by participating in the Holy Week services of the church, not just by attending, but also by preparing, by studying the readings, entering into the spirit, offering our services as ministers of the Word or Eucharist, decorating the church or preparing the environment for worship.

Let us sing, "Lord, have mercy," and "Hosanna." Let us praise the Lord with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength, uniting with the suffering church throughout the world -- in Rome and Northern Ireland, in Syria and Lebanon, in South Africa and Angola, India and China, Nicaragua and El Salvador, in Washington and Jackson.

Let us break bread together; let us relive the holy and redemptive mystery. Let us do it in memory of him, acknowledging in faith his real presence upon our altars.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by sharing holy peace and joy within our families, sharing family prayer on a regular basis, making every meal a holy meal where loving conversations bond family members in unity, sharing family work without grumbling, making love not war, asking forgiveness for past hurts and forgiving one another from the heart, seeking to go all the way for love as Jesus went all the way for love.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by sharing holy peace and joy with the needy, the alienated, the lonely, the sick and afflicted, the untouchable.

Let us unite our sufferings, inconveniences and annoyances with the suffering of Jesus. Let us stretch ourselves, going beyond our comfort zones to unite ourselves with Christ's redemptive work.

We unite ourselves with Christ's redemptive work when we reconcile, when we make peace, when we share the good news that God is in our lives, when we reflect to our brothers and sisters God's healing, God's forgiveness, God's unconditional love.

Let us be practical, reaching out across the boundaries of race and class and status to help somebody, to encourage and affirm somebody, offering to the young an incentive to learn and grow, offering to the downtrodden resources to help themselves.

May our fasting be the kind that saves and shares with the poor, that actually contacts the needy, that gives heart to heart, that touches and nourishes and heals.

During this Holy Week when Jesus gave his life for love, let us truly love one another.

Joseph of Arimathea: "Sun and Wind"

As part of my Catholic fiction efforts, in addition to writing I have been reading what others have written to be inspired, to learn, and, well, just because I like to read!

I just finished William Boardman's Sun and Wind: The Legend of Joseph of Arimathea. It's a fictionalized account of Joseph being forced to flee Palestine after burying Jesus. He settles in England, where, according to legend, he helped to spread Christianity.

I was interested in the story because I wanted to learn more about the legend. That curiosity helped to keep me reading the book despite its flaws.

The plot is passable, but not gripping, and at times seems contrived. The writing is inconsistent, and the handling of dialogue is frequently awkward. I got the impression that this may have originally been self-published - though I don't know that for a fact.

Hey, at least Mr. Boardman managed to finish writing his book! That's more than I can say about my own efforts.

The book is worth reading if you are interested in the subject or if you just enjoy reading books with Christian themes, but I can't recommend it as "literature".

Maybe someone else out there has read it and has a different take?